Dollar Value of Mediation Skills in the Connection Economy

It’s hard to place a dollar value on human-to-human interactions in the current (and growing) connection economy, because connection is about engaging in acts of caring.

And whoever put a dollar value on acts of caring?

But here are a few challenge questions if that’s your attitude:

Whoever put a dollar value on the act of raising crops in an agricultural economy?

Whoever put a dollar value on the act of building a widget in an industrial economy?

Whoever put a dollar value on the act of providing a customer service in the service economy?

Humanity figured out the dollar value inherent in all the economic transitions from hunting and foraging, to agriculture, to industry, to service and created functioning economic systems—from trading and bartering to late stage capitalism. And humanity will figure out the current global transition we are in right now.

The space between the old system and the new system is a space of conflict, anger, incivility, uncertainty, spectacle, entertainment, along with a healthy dose of depression, worry, and anxiety.

This is a space where the skills of mediation (particularly around distraction, diversion, and deflection) can be helpful (and monetized) at scale.

But whoever put a dollar value on the acts of caring?


In every training, workshop, seminar, or presentation, there are participants who don’t want the stories, the philosophies, or the underlying data.

They merely want the skills.

The bullet points that will allow them to plug-in to a situation or conflict, and make it turn out in the most optimum way possible.

For them.

Unfortunately, the skills that they are seeking to learn are not the ones we need to acquire for success in the work world of today—and tomorrow.

How do we determine what skills we do need be learning, though?

A good rule of thumb is to observe carefully the patterns of behavior that you’re engaged in that may not be getting you the outcomes you think that you deserve.

Once that observation is complete, then act to change those patterns of behavior. Get a conflict accountability “buddy.” Gather with others who have overcome the patterns of conflict behavior that you have overcome and share your stories.

And lastly, engage with your new skills by making some tough choices. Some of them will not be easy, particularly if they involve family, friends, or workplaces that are toxic, not supportive of your change process, or that wield power over you in subtle (and not so subtle) ways.

And once you’ve partially gotten through this path to learning skills that are based in what we do need more of (empathy, courage, moral clarity, responsibility, and accountability) then write about what you’ve done and the path that you’ve walked to get to where you are now.

We need more people writing, making videos, and recording podcasts, about how they’ve actually learned the skills that work, rather than more fluff about the spectacles that entertain.

At that point, and only at that point, will the listicle dragon be slain.

[Opinion] Building a Real Relationship…

There’s not an “access to skills” deficit in resolving conflicts.

The access to learning, cutting edge developments, and research around engaged communication, emotional intelligence, active listening, body language cueing, and other areas is available virtually everywhere, whether through a trip to the library, your local bookstore or via a Google search.

The understanding that treating people in a civil manner, using power collaboratively rather than in a domineering fashion, and that “sharing is caring” is still taught in the kindergarten years.

The courage of people who have cared enough to take a risk to reach out, show vulnerability and work towards resolutions with other parties in conflicts (personal and professional) is evident all around us, from quiet ways in our families, to our neighborhoods and even the workplace.

And yet, many still believe that the tools for engaging with conflicts in a healthy, growth oriented way, rather than attacking, avoiding or accommodating conflict is somehow an esoteric and mysterious skill, available only to the select few.

Acting upon this belief gives our families, communities and workplaces more conflicts, more disputes, more misunderstandings and more problems.

Acting upon this belief in overt (and covert) ways tills the ground for the planting of the seeds of dysfunction that render our organizations incapable of change, our communities unable to confront hard decisions, and our governments paralyzed and impotent in the face of crises of our own making.

There are reams of paper and thousands of bytes of words expended on the “how-to” of resolving conflicts, and even more spilled on the benefits of the “why” of resolving conflicts. And yet, much of the resistance to taking (and implementing) the ideas of resolving conflicts proactively and in a healthy manner, is rooted in fear.

There’s not a skills problem for resolving conflicts. There’s a fear problem at the core of continued conflicts in our lives, our families, our workplaces and our neighborhoods.

The only way to overcome this fear is through engaging with something as equally as “unsexy” as engaging with conflict effectively: Building real relationships with people.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

Interviewing For Cultural Fit

Culture defines how employees make meaning about the work that they do.

How To Hire

Workplace culture is defined as ways of thinking, behaving and working in an organization that provides boundaries for where employees can and cannot place value.

The issue comes when the personal culture that an employee comes from doesn’t match the culture of the organization that they are joining.

In other contexts, this disruption is noted as lack of product market fit, and typically, in the open market, when an organization makes something that no one wants to buy, they go out of business.

When we think of hiring, the interview process is used as a way to avoid—or minimize—the detrimental results of a lack of product (people) market (job) fit.

However, these days the interview process is so artificial and so unable to determine if a person can actually do the job for which they have been hired, it is a wonder we haven’t done away with it.

Conflicts in the workplace arise from the get-go, because the initial person/organization fit is poor, and then they escalate when two people, tasked to work together to accomplish a company goal, can’t get along with each other and disagree about where they fit in the organization.

Cultural interpersonal conflicts at work are corrosive, damaging and dangerous and could probably be avoided if–instead of asking a series of artificial questions, or filing out meaningless, psychological assessments—the hiring organization could discover each individuals’ story about why they want to work for an organization in a particular position.

Would this be harder, more time consuming and require a deeper level of emotional intelligence on the part of the hiring committee? Sure. But firing and rehiring are just as time consuming and harder still.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: